Last night, my parents and grandma flew out to Peru to stay with family and friends for a couple weeks. Over the next few days they’ll be making a pilgrimage up north to a secluded beach where my grandpa used to fish with his comrades. It is there where they’ll spread his ashes, as he wished.
I really wanted to be there but I can imagine how beautiful it will be.
I’m bent on making my way through grandpa’s cookbook. This is what it looks like: inked with his hand, oil-splatted pages and all. It’s personal and intimate and I love it. This particular recipe for biscochuelo was a general one he used for cakes and would modify it depending on what he was crafting that day. It’s a simple but heavenly batter and I wanted to drink it as is before baking — it smelled so good.
Some key things here: read through the directions a couple times before starting it. This isn’t terribly hard to make, in fact, quite the opposite, but considering it was my first hand at making a cake roll, it was imperative to do some research on technique prior to assembling. Pre-rolling it in a kitchen towel while it’s still warm is critical, otherwise the cake will crack if you roll it when it’s cooled. Letting it cool completely rolled up sets the mold so when it comes time to filling and rolling it up again, it knows where to go.
I was delighted with how it turned out. The dulce de leche to spongy cake ratio was spot on, with the slightly over-baked chewy bits being the tastiest of them all. We eat this with a mug of hot tea for an after-dinner treat.
Makes 1 fat roll
6 eggs, whites and yolks separated
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups homemade dulce de leche* or 2 store-bought canned
Powdered sugar, for dusting
*Recipe for homemade dulce de leche at bottom of post
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with greased parchment paper that hangs about 1/4 inch off the sides and then grease and flour the top. Set aside.
Using a stand or hand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the egg whites on high until it’s got a silky, lustrous sheen and stiff peaks, about 7 minutes. Lower the speed and slowly add the yolks one at a time, and then the sugar and vanilla extract.
Sift the flour and baking powder together to lighten and blend. Then, mix this in to the egg mixture by hand, little by little, with a spatula, being careful not to over-mix or deflate batter. Lastly, add the vegetable oil and stir gently again.
Pour this batter onto the baking sheet and spread evenly. Put it into the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes, using a toothpick to test for doneness. It shouldn’t be too golden brown on top and the cake should be pretty light and springy.
Let this cool for about 10 minutes on a cooling rack, covered with damp paper towels to keep moist.
Then, run a knife all around the edges and use a spatula to un-stick parchment paper from baking sheet. Grab a kitchen towel bigger than the size of the cake sheet and put it over the cake. Turn the baking sheet over so it’s upside down and the cake should plop right out, but be gentle. Slip the parchment paper off the bottom of the cake and discard. Dust lightly all over with powdered sugar — this helps the towel not stick when you pre-roll it. Then, from one short end to the other, roll it so that the towel tucks inside and leave it be just like this until the cake cools completely.
Meanwhile, clean up (my kitchen was a delightful mess at this point).
When you’re just about ready to fill and roll, warm up your dulce de leche on the stove top until loosened up a bit. You have the option to use either homemade or store-bought dulce de leche. I’ll include the recipe for homemade at the bottom (p.s. homemade tastes tons better)
Unroll the cake roll and pour the dulce de leche all over, spreading it evenly with an offset or icing spatula. Then, use the towel as an aide to help you re-roll it following the mold it had cooled in. Heft it onto a pretty platter and dust with powdered sugar. Slice and enjoy!
Homemade dulce de leche
Here’s a recipe for the homemade stuff. I originally posted it a month ago on the ODA Facebook page but I reckon I should keep it here too. My family used to make this on the stove top, with the unopened can submerged in water to simmer for a couple hours. But, after being exhorted of possible can explosions in the kitchen (this happened to my aunt once) I decided to play it safe and cook it in the oven instead sans can. Turned out to be easy and delicious.
Makes about 1 cup
1 – 10 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Pour sweetened condensed milk into a baking dish; I used a round glass pie dish. Wrap the top with aluminum foil and place this dish into a bigger roasting pan. Pour hot water into the roasting pan until it comes up about halfway up the sides of the baking dish.
Place the whole thing into the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, stirring every now and again and replenishing the water if it starts to get low. When it’s golden brown, luscious, and tastes delicious, it’s ready. This keeps in the fridge for weeks. Warm gently to loosen before use (if you want, or just stick spoon in and eat).